Stress can be crippling when it gets too much. I've been there. I've been burnt out. I know what it feels like to be crippled by your own stress.
Just under a year and a half ago, I experienced burn out due to stress. I was overworking and underpaying myself. But more than that, I believed that I had to overwork to get paid. I bought into the mindset that you need to overwork yourself to achieve anything. What happened to me was that I cared so much about my business and spent so much time on it that when I didn't do it perfectly or when things didn't go the way I had planned, I blamed myself.
That sense of failure crippled me.
And I couldn't have been more wrong.
I'm not perfect and I'm not a guru or psychologist of any kind - I'm just a person who's been through this and had to learn - so here are my top three tips for getting over stress as a business owner.
Aim for 80%
I learned this from a friend of mine who is a doctor. I asked him, "isn't med school hard?" And he said, "No. Everybody thinks it's hard because they want to be at number one. But you just have to be good enough to get into med school."
That was the most liberating thing I had ever heard from a casual conversation. We all aim for 100% but we really don't need to. The pressure of 100% can be overwhelming.
We will never be perfect. You just need to be good most of the time. Sometimes you will fail yourself, your clients, your suppliers, your boss, your colleagues. It happens. But remind yourself that you've been good to them 99.999% of the time. Disappointment isn't the end. Forgive yourself for not being perfect 100% of the time. Also, forgive others for not being perfect.
I used to believe that "you are your brand" - but I've learned that you're not. Even if your name is on it. Your brand is what you tell your clients to get them to buy from you - but it's not the real you. Can you honestly say that you live up to your own brand standards 100% of the time? No. It's healthier to separate yourself from your business.
Take your mind off it
I like to walk when I'm stressed. It takes my mind off the issue and I get a new perspective, which gives me a chance to re-frame the issue in my head. I hate waking outside when it's cold, so I do circles around the mall. Other times when I'm too lazy to leave the house, I just change tasks so I'm concentrating on something else.
Talk it out with someone or write it down
You'd be surprised how cathartic it is. Many of us are afraid to share our struggles because we think others don't care - and it might be true. So if people don't care about what you're going through, then take control and care about yourself. Write down your feelings to yourself so you can work it out. The goal is to get out of the mental loop that we often put ourselves in. When you see the words you put down on paper, ask yourself, "what would I say to my friend to help them out?" Be your own best friend.
I believe in being honest with ourselves, forgiving ourselves, and not expect perfection from ourselves.
If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I’d love to hear from you!
Cindy, our North York, ON Branch Director, is a multipreneur and marketing professional who helps small businesses with acquisition and retention through inbound marketing. She has spent the last five years living and working abroad because she wanted to understand the other side of the world. In her spare time, she enjoys learning new skills and reading. She also does a bit of yoga from time to time :)